ALLOCATIONS & TRANSFERS POLICIES & PROCEDURES

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1 ALLOCATIONS & TRANSFERS POLICIES & PROCEDURES FIRST PRODUCED: 1995 REVIEW DATE: 24 JULY 2002 NEXT REVIEW DATE: JULY 2003 MINOR REVIEW OCTOBER 2005 MINOR REVIEW NOVEMBER 2006 REVIEWED: MARCH 2011 MINOR REVIEW: OCTOBER 2012 NEXT REVIEW DATE: MARCH 2014 Available free of charge on request from:- Angus Housing Association Limited, 93 High Street, Arbroath, DD11 1DP Telephone : COMMON/POLICY/HOUSING MANAGEMENT/ALLOCATIONS

2 Angus Housing Association Registered Charity Number SC Activity Standards Housing Management Property Management Property Development Homelessness Services for Owners Gypsy Travellers Wider Action Number(s) AS1.1, AS1.2 AS4.2, AS4.3, AS4.7, AS4.8, AS4.10 Written by Gillian Meldrum Department Housing Management Approval Date by Committee 4 May 2011 Notes The Allocations & Transfer Policy was discussed with the Tenants Forum and various Equal Opportunities Groups were asked for comments. The Policy reflects the Scottish Governments Social Housing Allocations, A Practice Guide and recommendation made by Internal Auditor. 2

3 ANGUS HOUSING ASSOCIATION LIMITED ALLOCATIONS POLICY PART 1 INTRODUCTION AND GENERAL INFORMATION a. Angus Housing Association Limited Angus Housing Association Limited is a Housing Association registered with Communities Scotland and the Financial Services Authority. We are also a Registered Charity and we do not trade for profit. Our principal objective is to provide well managed and maintained social rented housing throughout the Angus and Dundee areas. The Association fully acknowledges and accepts the responsibility of ensuring that the houses we have available for renting are allocated to people with a genuine housing need. Housing need is defined as a household without a secure home of their own or a household who s current home does not suit their needs. We will consider the demand for housing in our area as well as the needs and preferences of applicants In drawing up our Allocations and Transfers Policy, the Association has also given due weight to maintaining well balanced and sustainable communities within the settlements in which we operate. We have considered the goals of our strategic plan. We will also take into account the sensitivities of the local community when making an allocation. We are working with both Angus Council and Dundee City Council on the development of Common Housing Registers. 3

4 b. The Housing Stock Available As at January 2013, the Association has 1770 houses of various designs and sizes available to rent throughout Angus and Dundee. In future we hope to continue to increase our stock of properties within our area of operation. The current and future housing supply is considered when developing this policy c. Policy Formulation In formulating our Policy, the Association has taken due account of the Guidance issued by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations in their document Raising Standards in Housing Chapter 1 (Allocations) and also Performance Standards for Social Landlords and Homelessness Functions (Activity Standards 1: Housing Management) produced by COSLA, Communities Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations. The Association has also taken into account the Local Housing Strategies of both Dundee City and Angus Council. d. Method Of Assessment And Allocation The Association is of the opinion that a Group and Points System is the best way for us to allocate our houses because it can be applied in a flexible but fair way. The use of points provides a fair way in which to assess the individual needs of Applicants and distributing the allocations over a range of groups means that houses are available to applicants with a varied range of housing needs. The Association undertakes to assess all Applications we receive for our housing. If we are unable to match a persons needs, or stated preferences, to a suitable property then the application will be cancelled and the applicant informed to reapply if their circumstances change. Applicants in such circumstances will also be advised of other Registered Social Landlords who may be able to assist them. The means by which the assessment of Applications will be made is through the points system. The method of allocating points will be regularly reviewed. If an application falls within one or more Group then it will be placed in whichever Group 4

5 most benefits the applicant. A full copy of the Allocations Policy and Procedures is available on request from our offices. e. Applications To Other Housing Agencies As the Association is a small Organisation with a limited stock of houses for which there is a considerable demand, we actively encourage applicants to put their names on the waiting lists of other Housing Associations and the local Councils. Even if the circumstances of an Applicant merit a high priority, we cannot guarantee a house will become available within a reasonable timescale. In particular, we would advise homeless applicants who are in need of emergency housing or a quick allocation of permanent housing that the Association cannot guarantee to have the resources to assist them and that they should apply to the local Council under terms of the Homeless Persons Legislation. Further information on these alternative options is included in our Information Pack for Applicants. f. Confidentiality Of Information Provided The confidentiality of information provided by applicants will be respected at all times. Information on allocations reported to the Housing Management Sub Committee will be protected by the coding of Applications. The names, addresses and other details of the Applicants personal circumstances will only be known to Staff. Any information given by an Applicant which is stored on computer will be done in accordance with the terms of the Data Protection Act. The Association is registered with the Data Protection Register. g. Enquiries To ensure fairness to all applicants, all enquiries regarding the progress of Applications will be dealt with by the Staff of the Association. Any enquiries to Councillors, Members of Parliament or a Member of the Committee of Management will also be referred to the Staff in the first instance. 5

6 h. Receipt Of Applications Receipt of all applications along with the reference number will be confirmed in writing within 5 days. Applications will be assessed and applicants will be informed in writing about the number of points they have been awarded within 10 days of receipt of all relevant information. i. Equal Opportunities Allocations of houses are made irrespective of the Applicants race, colour, ethnic or national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, employment status or physical ability. The Association has no requirement to make enquiries about the immigration status of applicants and this will not be taken into account when making allocations j. Applicants With Support Needs If the Association becomes aware that support may be required in order for an applicant to maintain a tenancy, the Association may, following discussion with the Applicant, make appropriate referrals to support agencies to try to ensure the support is in place prior to a tenancy being offered. k. Appeals Applicants who are dissatisfied with the way their application has been dealt with can make an appeal in writing to the Housing Manager. Should the applicant remain dissatisfied with the response then an appeal can be made to the Director. The Association also has a Formal Complaints Policy, a copy of which is available on request. 6

7 l. Policy Review The Association undertakes to regularly review and update our Policies and Procedures for Allocations and Transfers to take account of their current operation and any changes in the Law. To complement the Policy and Procedures document, the Association also promotes its Allocation Policy by means of advertising, publicity and providing an Applicants Information Pack. PART 2 ELIGIBILITY OF APPLICANTS WHO QUALIFIES? a. General (i) Applications are accepted from any person aged 16 or over. (ii) Allocations made to persons who are close relatives of Staff or Committee Members must be specifically approved by the Committee of Management and made strictly in accordance with the terms of this policy. In order to ensure that this happens, applicants must state on their application form if they are related in any way to a staff or Committee Member of the Association. Staff or Committee Members or their close relatives who are already tenants are eligible to apply for a transfer or an exchange. A full list of the names of current staff and Committee Members will be available for inspection at our offices in order that Applicants can check this when completing application forms. b. Applicants With Rent Arrears/Outstanding Debts Applications will be accepted from people with rent arrears for either their current or previous tenancies. However, if there are outstanding debts amounting to more than one month s rent or the equivalent of one twelfth of any other tenancy related debt, the application will be placed in a non-priority Group until such time as the 7

8 situation improves or is resolved or a repayment arrangement is in place and has been honoured for a minimum of three months. c. Applicants Giving False Information If it is found that an applicant has deliberately given false information or has deliberately omitted important information from their application form, their application will be suspended for a period of two years. Anyone housed through an advantage gained by giving false information will be liable to legal proceedings to recover possession of the house. All decisions will be fully detailed, in writing, to the applicant. d. Applicants Who Deliberately Worsen Their Circumstances If it is found that an applicant has deliberately worsened their housing situation to increase their number of points, their application will be suspended for one year and when it is re-instated, will be considered on the basis of the original circumstances. All decisions will be fully detailed, in writing, to the applicant. e. Applicants With Access To Their Children If an applicant requires accommodation of a larger size to enable access arrangements for their children, one extra bedroom may be allocated on condition that there are no eligible families on the Waiting List at that time who would qualify for the vacant property. If there is no legal separation document in place, written evidence of access to children must be provided by each parent s solicitor confirming the arrangement. This must be provided at the point of application to ensure an accurate assessment of the housing requirements can be made. 8

9 f. Applicants With Medical Reasons For Rehousing If an applicant has medical reasons which they feel should be taken into account in the assessment of their housing needs, they should complete Part 8 of the Application and a Special Needs and Medical Assessment Form will be issued to complete and return. If this information indicates a potential housing need, the Application will then be assessed by the NHS Medical Advisory Service on behalf of the Association. Points will be awarded according to this assessment and the decision made will be deemed to be final. If an applicant does not agree with the medical assessment then an appeal can be submitted. Where a medical assessment has been carried out and a specific type of housing is recommended then the Association will only offer this type of housing. If an Applicant wishes to be considered for a different type of housing then any medical points awarded will be deducted. This must be advised in writing by the Applicant. g. Enquiries Into Application Details The Association reserves the right to make any enquiries we consider to be necessary to check the accuracy of information provided by applicants. Prior to any offer of housing being made, a home visit will be carried out to verify the applicant s details and circumstances. Tenancy Reference Checks will also be made with current and previous landlords to verify the accuracy of information provided. If there is no response to the Home Visit letter then a further letter will be sent. If there is no response to this letter then the application will be cancelled. Applicants in this situation can re-apply without being penalised in any way. 9

10 h. Allocations & Offers Of Housing All offers of housing will be made in writing to the applicant who is top of the list. They will be given three working days to arrange to view the house. Once this has taken place a further two working days will be allowed, if required, to decide whether or not to accept. Failure to respond to an offer of housing will result in a further letter being issued advising that if there is no response to this communication then the application will be cancelled. (Applicants can re-apply at any time) PART 3 PRINCIPLES OF THE SYSTEM HOW IT WORKS a. General The Association operates a group plus points system. Applicants with the most points in each group are offered a suitable house as they become vacant. The Association will allocate each Group a proportion of vacancies which is commensurate with the number of Applicants in that Group. Over the course of a year, the Association will attempt to distribute allocations between groups on the basis of the percentage of applicants within the various Groups. This will, however, be dependent upon the type and size of houses which become available for letting and the willingness of applicants in each category to accept what is available. Percentage allocation Targets of those in housing need will be reviewed each year on the basis of the analysis of the make-up of the Waiting List at 31 March reported to the Association s Housing Management Sub Committee b. Nomination & Section Five Arrangements With Local Authorities The Association will enter into Nomination Agreements with the Local Councils in whose area we operate, whereby the Councils will be able to nominate applicants from their housing lists to an agreed proportion of our vacant properties 10

11 The Association also has protocols in place with the Local Councils governing Section Five referrals for statutory homeless households. c. Classification Of Applications Applications are classified according to housing need, the type and size of accommodation required. Waiting time is only taken into account where two applicants have an identical number of points. In such circumstances, the applicant who has been on the list longest will be given the first offer of accommodation d. Immediately Available Properties The Association has a list of properties identified as Difficult to Let. When one or more of the following conditions are met then will these properties will be classed as Immediately Available. No one on Waiting List No one referred by the Local Authority Property offered and refused twice Any property out with the Difficult to Let list which has been refused 4 times or where the lettable void time exceeds 4 weeks will then also be deemed Immediately Available. If a property is deemed to be Immediately Available then any applicant or potential applicant who expresses an interest can be considered. Anyone expressing an interest who is not already on the Waiting List will be asked to complete an Application Form and this will be fast-tracked into the system to allow the formal processing procedures to take place. 11

12 PART 4 HOUSE SIZES AND TYPES ALLOCATED a. House Types The Association will generally attempt to allocate houses of the type expressed as a preference given on the application form. Houses with stairs of any kind will not, however, be allocated where a medical priority recommendation states that a ground floor house all on one level is required. b. General Guide To House Size The following table is a general guide to the minimum size of houses which may be offered to applicants. Household Sizes Single Person House Size/Bedspaces Bedsit 1 bedroom flat or house Couple 1 bedroom flat or house 2 bedroom flat or house Family Extended Family/Non Related Applicants Size of property allocated determined by age and sex of children Bedroom required for each adult 12

13 c. Extent Of Sharing Of Bedrooms Allowed At the time of making an allocation, the Association will attempt to ensure that:- i. No adult member of the household over the age of 16 is required to share with anyone other than their spouse or partner. ii. iii. iv. No children of opposite sex over the age of 5 are required to share a bedroom. No child over the age of 12 will be required to share a bedroom with a child of the same sex A double bedspace is specifically allocated to the head of a single parent household. In instances where the household may be effected by the under occupancy penalty (bedroom tax), the Association will allow a degree of overcrowding in line with these rules if the applicant indicates this is their preference. Under no circumstances however will the Association allocate a property to a household of a larger number than the house is designed for. e. Start-Up Bedsits The Association has a number of start up bedsits. These are bedsits that are partially furnished with floorcoverings, white goods, window dressings, a bed and a chair. These are offered to single homeless households with support if required. If after a period of 6 months the tenant wishes to move to an unfurnished 2 apartment flat then they will (provided all other transfer conditions are met) be given a priority to move to the next available suitable property. 13

14 f. Exceptional Circumstances It is recognised that cases may arise which are not adequately covered by this section of the Allocations Policy and any Member of Staff or the Committee of Management may ask the Director to prepare a Report to the Housing Management Sub Committee for special consideration of such cases. PART FIVE - WAITING LIST GROUPS Group 1 Transfer Applications from Existing Association Tenants Applications for transfers will only be accepted from tenants of the Association who can demonstrate in their application that they have a genuine unmet housing need or are living in bedsit accommodation. Any serious breaches of the Tenancy Agreement for which it is necessary to take legal action will lead to an application being suspended for six months or until such time as the tenancy is being conducted in a satisfactory manner. Overcrowding For every bedroom short of requirements For every bedspace the household is lacking For every year the household has suffered from overcrowding Under Occupation For every extra bedroom which is not required 10 Points 5 Points 1 Point 20 Points MEDICAL PRIORITY POINTS Applicants who indicate they have a medical need for rehousing will have their Application assessed by the NHS Medical Advisory Service. Points are awarded dependant upon the extent to which a medical problem can be resolved or improved by a change in the housing situation of the applicant. 14

15 Points will be awarded as follows: No medical priority Low priority Medium medical priority High medical priority 0 Points 10 Points 15 Points 20 Points OTHER NEEDS Applicants requiring rehousing due to Domestic or Racial 30 Points Abuse Applicants suffering from anti-social behaviour or harassment : Extreme 25 Points Serious 15 Points Sustained Nuisance 10 Points Households living in specialist accommodation that they no longer require 20 Points Households where there is a lack of public transport in the area. 10 Points Applicants wishing to move in order to be close to relatives to give or receive support. 5 Points All other Applicants wishing to move for social reasons 3 Points Group 2 Applicants living in Overcrowded Conditions This Group will include all applicants from out with the Association who are living in overcrowded conditions. Overcrowding will be assessed and pointed in accordance with the system outlined in Group 1 above. Group 3 Applicants Under-Occupying a Large House This Group will include all applicants from out with the Association who are living in houses which are too large for their present or future needs. For every extra bedroom which is not required 10 Points 15

16 Group 4 (a) Applicants Living in Insecure or Temporary Accommodation For the purpose of this Policy, this Group includes all households who, although they are not without shelter, are nevertheless without secure tenure of their home. This includes any applicants whose home is directly provided with heir job. Points will be awarded to applicants within this Group as follows:- Households living in insecure accommodation who have been issued with a Notice to Quit. Owner occupiers subject to a repossession order or who have sold their home and have less than 2 months to remain in their home Households living in insecure accommodation and under threat of homelessness due to the end of a fixed term lease which has less than 2 calendar months to run. Households living in tied accommodation and threatened with homelessness Households living in insecure accommodation and under threat of homelessness due to the end of a fixed term lease which has less than 1 year to run Households living in insecure accommodation but under no immediate threat of homelessness. This includes tenants who are subject to a demolition order but have no date to leave their home 30 Points 25 Points 20 Points 20 Points 15 Points Group 4 (b) Households Without Their Own Separate Home Households in lodgings, homeless persons accommodation or houses in multiple occupancy and sharing kitchen and/or bathing facilities with another household or households 25 Points 16

17 Group 5 Applicants with Medical Priority Points Applicants wishing to apply for housing on medical grounds only will be included in this Group if they have no other housing need. Applications will be assessed by the NHS Medical Advisory Service Points awarded will be as follows: No medical priority Low medical priority Moderate priority High medical priority 0 Points 10 Points 15 Points 20 Points The points awarded depend upon to the extent to which a medical problem can be resolved or improved by a change in the housing situation of the applicant. Applicants in all other groups will have any medical priority points added to their total. All applications are categorised and pointed prior to being sent for independent assessment and this information is also made available to the medical assessor to help with decision making. Group 6 Applicants with an outright Medical Priority for Rehousing This Group will only include applicants considered to have an outright need for a specific size or type of housing due to an independently assessed medical problem. They will merit top priority and will be considered for the next available suitable property. If necessary, the Association will liaise with Angus Council, Dundee City Council and any other housing providers who may be able to assist with suitable accommodation. Applicants in this Group will be eligible for the next available suitable property and as such this Group is not included in the allocation targets. 17

18 Group 7 Applicants requiring Special Needs & Adapted Housing All specially adapted housing will be allocated to applicants form the Local Councils Adapted Housing Waiting List. Houses in this category will only be allocated after full consultation with other appropriate parties such as the Association s appointed Medical Assessor, the Social Work Department and the local authorities, to ensure that those applicants in most need are being rehoused. Applicants in this Group will be eligible for the next available suitable property and as such this Group is not included in the allocation targets. Group 8 Applicants who are Statutorily Homeless This Group will only include applicants who are statutorily homeless and are referred to the Association by the Homeless Persons Officer of the local authority via the Section 5 Protocol with the local authority. Applicants in this Group will be eligible for the next available suitable property and as such this Group is not included in the allocation targets. Group 9 Applicants Requiring Independent Housing This Group includes applicants who do not have a tenancy, wish to form a separate household but are forced to share with another family or individual.. Points will be awarded to Applicants within this Group as follows:- Couples with children and single parent families having to share with friends and relatives Couples without children having to share with friends and relatives Single persons having to share with friends and Relatives (this includes applications for shared tenancies) 20 Points 15 Points 10 Points 18

19 Group 10 Applicants Requiring Care and Support This Group will include applicants wishing to move in order to be close to relatives to give or receive support, and all other applicants who want to move for social reasons. It will also include applicants fleeing domestic abuse, racial harassment, religious or sectarian harassment, homophobic harassment, transphobic harassment and harassment of those with a disability. Points will be awarded to Applicants within this Group as follows:- Applicants requiring rehousing due to domestic or racial abuse 30 Points Applicants suffering from anti-social behaviour or harassment: Extreme 25 Points Serious 15 Points Sustained Nuisance 10 Points Applicants wishing to move in order to be close to relatives to give or receive support. All other Applicants wishing to move for social reasons 10 Points 5 Points 19

20 Group 11 Applicants in Special Housing Circumstances This Group include applicants living in sub-standard accommodation, or mobile homes. It will also include applicants in employment who live in an area where there is a lack of public transport. Points will be awarded to Applicants within this Group as follows:- Households living in caravans or accommodation with either no inside toilet, fixed bath or shower or running hot water. Households where their accommodation has been classified as Below Tolerable Standard or suffers from extreme dampness Households where there is a lack of public transport in the area. Households wishing to move nearer work where on average it takes more than one hour to commute to work Households living in specialist accommodation that they no longer require Households whose home does not have central heating and/or double glazing (not eligible for additional points for this circumstance) 25 Points 20 Points 20 Points 20 Points 10 Points Group 12 Sheltered Housing Applicants This Group includes all applicants, aged 60 years or more, expressing an interest in sheltered housing accommodation. All Applications will be assessed by an independent medical assessor and points awarded as follows: No priority for sheltered Low medical priority for sheltered Moderate priority for sheltered High medical priority for sheltered 1 Point 10 Points 15 Points 20 Points Applicants in this Group will be eligible for the next available sheltered property and as such this Group is not included in the allocation targets. 20

21 Additional Points In all priority groups apart from 1, 2, 3 and 5 an additional 5 points will be awarded for each member of the applicants household without suitable bedroom accommodation in recognition of the fact that overcrowding or a high degree of sharing intensifies the housing problem. For any household with no Double Glazing an extra 1 point will be awarded. For any household without Central Heating an extra 1 point will be awarded Other Categories of Applicants Applications Requiring More Information All applications where further information is required in order to make an accurate assessment of housing need are included in this category. If the requested information is not provided within 14 days then a further letter will be issued. If there is no response to this communication then the application will be cancelled. Adequately Housed Applicants This Category includes all applicants whose accommodation meets their needs but wish to move to a similar sized house. Applicants with Rent Arrears/Tenancy Related Debt/ Unsuitable References Applicants who have rent arrears of more than one month and/or have an outstanding debt for other tenancy related charges exceeding one twelfth of the total amount where there has been no suitable repayment agreement in place for a minimum of 3 months and all applicants who have been assessed as having unsuitable references from previous landlords will be included in this category. 21

22 PART 8 RENEWAL OF APPLICATIONS HOW THE WAITING LIST IS KEPT UP TO DATE a. Changes Of Circumstances For the avoidance of doubt, responsibility for notifying changes of address and other changes of circumstances is the responsibility of the applicant. Failure to notify changes which may materially affect the number of points the applicant is awarded may lead to the application being suspended on the basis in the clause in part 2 governing False and Misleading Information. b. Revision Forms Every six months, all applicants will receive a revision form asking them if they want to keep there application active. Failure to return this form within the specified 21 day period will lead to application being automatically cancelled unless special circumstances are proved (for example, an applicant away on holiday or in hospital when the Revision Form being issued). 22

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